Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day Twenty-Two

The Transformers documented our last day in NOLA. Click below to watch us as we go from our beloved New Orleans home to our California homes.

The sky looked threatening this morning, which worried us because we needed to pack up everything, tear down the tents, and get the Verrips brothers, Courtney, the truck and the trailer on the road by noon. We got up early and got right to work. Courtney and Emily got up even earlier and made their way to Café du Monde for beignets for all of us. Even before they arrived back home, we had already pulled down the walls of the tents and had started to pack away pots and pans, tools and first aid supplies. We all struggled as we watched our world dissolve away into an empty lot again. We might have had even more trouble, but we were forced to hurry to beat the rain.

As we bid the truck crew farewell (just before noon, as we planned), the rain started to fall. There were still a few random items floating out in the field, so we scurried madly to tuck them away. We have leftover food to our friend Jean’s Girl Scout troop and to the New Home Ministries church that we visited last Sunday. We gave extra tools and hard hats to Catholic Charities to help them to stock up for the rebuilding efforts that are beginning in earnest right now. (They will store them in the new building that will go up next week in the space where we demolished the dilapidated food bank.)

We took one more spin through the French Quarter, mostly trying to grab our last bites of crawfish or alligator and seeking souvenirs for ourselves and for some of you who are reading this page. We were pretty quiet in the bus as we approached the airport, as we knew that it was all coming to an end. We said goodbye to Leo and sent him off on his fourteen or so hour trip back to Indiana.

While on the plane, we worked on our last journal entries or sat with group members and sorted out plans for our final projects. Each group will produce three, with one for public presentation on February 15th at 7:00 in the Soda Center at Saint Mary’s College. (Please join us!) The others will be posted on this website some time after that.

As we flew, we had a chance to review the stats of our trip. It seems that we completed about 3,800 hours of manual labor, with 15 of our 22 days plagued by rain. We worked on a total of 15 houses, and different people in the group performed the following tasks over the course of the month: roofing, siding, walls, windows, doors, framing, drywall/texturing, floor refinishing, metal restoration, dryrot repair, painting, trim work, mold remediation, salvage work, gutting, demolition, landscape work, and pressure washing. We also restored two garden spaces, including one full-scale permaculture site. At the gardens, we cleared brush, removed limbs, removed debris, dredged a bioswale, planted trees, transplanted vegetation, turned compost, and laid pathways. (We also wrestled in the mud, but that doesn’t count toward our service hours . . .)

We are tired. We need sleep. But we are also rejuvenated. And we will always remember that the most important work we can still do is to spread the word about how great the need in New Orleans still is, even though seventeen months have passed since the storm. If you know one of us, help us to readjust. Listen to our stories, watch our videos, give us hugs, and give us a break if we don’t own any more clean socks. More than anything, remember the people of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Thanks for listening.